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City of Hanford, California

Hanford Solar system
"These critical investments in clean renewable energy prepare Hanford for a more sustainable future while providing long-term savings that can be redirected to other community services."
— Darrel Pyle, City Manager, City of Hanford


The Opportunity

The City of Hanford is in California’s San Joaquin Valley, where most of California’s produce is grown. In 2012, Hanford’s leaders sought ways to improve the operation of their Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), which treats over five million gallons of wastewater every day. City leaders moved to reduce the cost of the operation to directly translate into savings for residents and local farmers.

Another program goal was to address significant environmental issues including poor air quality from the combination of farming, industry, traffic and topography. This project bolstered the City’s commitment to the community by reducing the pollution in the Central Valley, displacing fossil fuel energy with clean renewable solar energy.

The Partnership

Hanford partnered with OpTerra Energy Services to develop a solar program to save money on electricity costs. The 1.12-megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) tracking system installed at the WWTP automatically angles the solar arrays toward the sun for maximum power production. After this program successfully offset 50 percent of the City’s utility purchases at the Plant, City leaders were excited to explore a next phase of work with OpTerra. Phase Two encompassed additional solar installations and energy efficiency improvements, to capture more savings and realize further benefits.

With the second phase of work completed in the spring of 2016, Hanford now has sustainable energy solutions implemented across 16 high-traffic sites including City Hall, the WWTP, the Train Station, the Fire Station, the Airport, the Police Department, the City Auditorium and several parks. As part of the second phase of work, a 2.3-megawatt ground-mounted solar system was installed adjacent to the WWTP to avoid electricity use at all City facilities. Additionally, LED lighting at most City buildings, parks and traffic intersections improved efficiency, performance, visibility, and nighttime roadway safety. This second phase of work reduced the City’s overall electric utility cost by 35 percent.

To pay for the most recent project, which is valued at over $9.9 million, the City used a design-build approach to lower the overall cost. A combination of funding streams were leveraged including financing through a 15-year tax-exempt lease purchase at a low interest rate. In addition to this, the City captured more than $100,000 in utility rebates.

The Impact

Through working with OpTerra to design and implement two successful phases of solar and energy efficiency upgrades, the City of Hanford has cemented its role as a regional leader known for prioritizing both fiscal and environmental stewardship. On top of cutting the annual cost of powering the WWTP, a critical asset to the community, in half, the new solar systems reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing 1,166 cars from the road every year.

By reducing the cost of energy demands at City facilities and at vital service sites, Hanford is better positioned to redirect their savings to attend to the community engagement needs of its residents. Local community members who support the farm economy and local industry are now able to access community services that are funded through energy savings achieved from this program.

The Technical Scope

Implemented sustainable energy solutions across 16 sites including the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), City Hall, the Train Station, the Fire Station, the Airport, the Police Department, the City Auditorium and several parks.

Upgrades included:
  • A total of 3.42 MW ground- mounted single-axis tracking solar photovoltaics (PV) adjacent to the WWTP
  • LED lighting at most City buildings, parks, and traffic intersections

City of Hanford